HealthDay News — Short message service (SMS) reminders are a moderately effective way to increase the rate of influenza vaccination among high-risk patients, according to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Annette K. Regan, PhD, MPH, from Curtin University in Western Australia, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial of SMS reminders for influenza vaccination. A total of 12,354 eligible high-risk patients who had a mobile telephone number on record at 10 practices were randomized to receive a vaccination reminder by SMS (intervention) or to receive no SMS (control). Vaccination data were extracted from the patients’ electronic medical records about three months after the SMS was sent.

The researchers found that 12% of the 6177 participants in the intervention group and 9% of the 6177 participants in the control group were vaccinated during the study period (relative increase attributable to SMS, 39%). 

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One additional high-risk patient was immunized for every 29 SMSs sent, costing $3.48. The effect was greatest for children aged younger than 5 years, with parental receipt of an SMS reminder associated with a more than twofold increase in the likelihood of parents having their child vaccinated (relative risk, 2.43).

“We found SMS reminders to be a modestly effective, low-cost means to increase seasonal influenza vaccine coverage among high-risk patients,” the authors write.

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Regan AK, Bloomfield L, Peters I, Effler PV. Randomized controlled trial of text message reminders for increasing influenza vaccination. Ann Fam Med. 2017 Nov;15(6):507-514.